Article: Volume 44 Number 7 Page 660 - July/August 2017

  Dent Update 2017; 44: 660-666  Read article

Special Care Dentistry/Mental Capacity/Consent:  Consent and Capacity - Considerations for the Dental Team Part 1: Consent and Assessment of Capacity

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Abstract: Consent and capacity legislation varies across the UK, however, the principles remain similar, with protective and supportive roles and responsibilities in place. Appropriate information should be shared in order to empower the patient. Every effort should be made to overcome barriers to communication, and it is essential for the dental team to have a sound understanding of legal and ethical principles underpinning assessment of capacity, thereby ensuring continued, valid consent. Patients lacking capacity to consent attempt to access primary care dental services frequently and with difficulty, with the increasing complexity of chronic medical conditions, dementia, mental ill health potentially causing social challenges.

Clinical relevance: This paper defines common terms relating to consent and capacity, provides an overview of UK legislation, and discusses practical dilemmas that the dental team may face.

Author notes: Suzanne Burke, BDS(Hons), MFDS RCSEd, Specialty Trainee in Special Care Dentistry, Andrew Kwasnicki, BChD, MFDS RCSEd, MSND RCSEd, Cert Sed(Liv) FHEA, Consultant/Honorary Clinical Lecturer in Special Care Dentistry, Shelagh Thompson, BDS, MPhil, PhD, MSND RCSEd, MFDS RCSEng, Professor/Honorary Consultant in Special Care Dentistry, Tom Park, BDS(Hons), MFDS RCSEd, Dental Core Trainee in Special Care Dentistry, Avril Macpherson, BDS, FDS RCSEd, MFDS RCSEd, MSND RCSEd, DipConSed FHEA, Consultant/Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in Special Care Dentistry, Special Care Dentistry Department, Liverpool University Dental Hospital, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospitals NHS Trust, Pembroke Place. Liverpool L3 5PS, UK.

Objective: To advise on how to gain valid consent within current legal and ethical frameworks and how lack of capacity to consent will affect this process.